It was somewhere towards the end of 1995, and I was sitting in the dorm room at the Cariri Baptist Seminary in Crato, Brazil, shooting the breeze with my college roommate. Inevitably, our conversation turned towards marriage.

My friend, a studious individual with an accomplished academic career ahead of him, said “If I were to get married now, half of my dreams would die.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I replied. “If I were to get married today, half of my dreams would come true!”

A few short weeks after that conversation with my friend (who, I should hasten to add, is now quite happily married), I met the woman who was to be the fulfillment of half of my dreams.

Half? As I reflect today on twenty years of marriage, I’m afraid I seriously underestimated that percentage.

A short (incomplete) list, in no particular order:

The Dream of Planting a Church

There is absolutely no way that the Ebenezer Regular Baptist Church would exist today were it not for the inter-personal, organizational, and spiritual gifts that Itacyara brought to the table. In the moments when we rode high she kept me grounded, and at our lowest moments she stood strong, even though the most vicious of attacks were being aimed at her.

Had not Itacyara been by my side, the dream of planting a church in Maranhão would not have come true. Period.

The Dream of Starting a Camp

In 2011 we were driving away from the little city of Morros, where we had just looked at a piece of property that would be the perfect place to put a Christian camp. The price we had been quoted was good, but still way out of our range. A church in the US had provided us with an offering to cover one half of the price, but that still left a significant amount.

Suddenly Itacyara spoke up. “Why don’t we take out a loan to cover the other half.” Taking out a loan at that moment would mean the postponement of one of her dreams: buying a house.

Yet that’s what we did. And a year later, instead of traveling to some tourist spot, Itacyara spent our family vacation by my side as we helped the bricklayers build the front wall.

Today, as I see people from our churches enjoying and being edified at the Mount Zion Baptist Camp, I smile, knowing that it would not exist were it not for Itacyara.

The Dream of Writing

Not only has Itacyara encouraged me along every step of the writing process, she also provided the inspiration for the strong, feminine character of Ilana in the Missionary Max books. Alas, Ilana is but a shadow of the real thing.

The Dream of Being a Father

Well…obviously. But it’s more than just biology. The two handsome young men who call me “Dad” would not be the strong, engaging, sociable, talented individuals they are were it not for their Mom.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a partial list. As I look back over twenty years of marriage, there is not one accomplishment, one blessing that could have happened at all without the participation of this magnificent woman whom I refer to affectionately as “The Brazilian Bombshell”.

Half of my dreams? Nah. Itacyara, you make all my dreams come true.

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